AbstractMore than anyone else, Magali Sarfatti Larson in 1977 established today’s received wisdom in the sociology of professions, in reaction against Talcott Parsons’ earlier functionalist approach. However, she acknowledges that she had failed to provide a theoretical alternative to Parsons’ functionalism. Today, Larson has substantially reevaluated her approach to professions, and indeed now accepts one of Parsons’ central arguments, namely that professions introduce important consequences into the larger social order. But from 1977 to today, she has still not developed consistently any identifiable theoretical approach to professions. One result of lacking any mooring at a conceptual level is that her descriptions and explanations of professionalism across her entire career suffer as a result, being at once ad hoc, unreliable and ultimately contradictory.
Keywords: professions, fine arts, law, architecture, expert occupations, functionalism, conflict sociology, labor markets.